For Frank Lyman Design, quality trumps cost-cutting
Published Saturday, December 28, 2013 6:51PM EST
Walk down the aisle of just about any clothing store, and the labels tell the story.
Most of the clothes Canadians buy are made in developing countries, often by workers who barely make a living wage.
But some local manufacturers are determined to make their garments closer to home, and they're proving it can be done.
Frank Lyman started his company, Frank Lyman Design, 13 years ago, and now has 350 workers.
“It gives me a big thrill to have people that we hire and they’re from this province,” he said.
Canadians import about 90 per cent of what they wear, and many Canadian companies use cheap foreign labour to stay competitive.
“It’s actually basically impossible for a Canadian apparel manufacturer to compete with countries such as Bangladesh, India and China,” said Randy Harris, a Canadian apparel expert.
Even after a factory collapse in Bangladesh earlier this year killed more than 1,000 people, consumers still aren't willing to give up their addiction to low prices.
“In the end the retailers has decided that the consumer finds low prices more important than where the product is manufactured,” Harris said.
But firms like Lyman’s have carved out a niche, finding success by focusing on quality.
They make 98 per cent of their clothing in Quebec, with more difficult designs being sent out to factories in Asia.
Their prices are a little higher, but they have found many consumers are willing to pay a little more for a better fit and better design.
Johanne Baron, head designer with the company, says there are advantages to manufacturing locally.
“When you do the designs in Canada at least you’re hands on. You know if you do the designs and send stuff overseas you lose the control,” she said.
Lyman, a self-professed proud Quebecer and Canadian, said it’s their focus on excellence in design that has made their clothing coveted the world over.
“We're a medium-priced company and we really survive on our fashion and our styling. It’s the design that counts,” he said,